Kerala to consider plea by kin of Varghese for compensation

Naxal leader shot dead in Thirunelli in 1970

January 29, 2021 06:48 pm | Updated 06:49 pm IST - KOCHI

The State government on Friday informed the Kerala High Court that it would consider favourably the plea for compensation made by the legal heirs of A. Varghese, a Naxal leader who was shot dead in a fake police encounter at the Thirunelli forest area in 1970.

When the petition filed by the brothers and younger sisters of Varghese came up for hearing, Senior Public Prosecutor Suman Chakravarthy submitted that the government would consider the demand for compensation, if a representation was filed by the legal heirs of Varghese.

In two months

In view of the submission, Justice A. Nagaresh disposed of the petition by allowing the legal heirs to file a representation in this regard and directing the government to consider and pass orders within two months of the filing of such a representation.

The petition sought a declaration that they were legally entitled to a compensation of ₹50 lakh with interest for the loss of reputation, goodwill and loss of affection, dependency, care and protection, caused to the petitioners because of the murder of Varghese.

In an affidavit that was later withdrawn, the government had earlier taken the stand that the conviction of a former police officer by the CBI Special Court on October 28, 2010 was not a ground for seeking compensation for the alleged State brutality, which was not in existence at any point of time. The government had also stated that neither the investigating agency nor the special court could find any reason to deny the fact that Varghese was a ‘notorious criminal’ involved in murder and dacoity cases in Wayanad. But the government had withdrawn the affidavit during the pendency of the case.

Change in circumstances

Counsel for the petitioners, therefore, pointed out that there was a change in circumstances and the government was expected to respond favourably to their demand.

A case had been registered against the former Inspector General of Police K. Lakshmana and DIG P. Vijayan on the basis of a statement by Ramachandran Nair, a member of the team engaged in anti-Naxal combing operations. According to his statement, Varghese was shot dead at the instance of his superior officers. The CBI Special Court, Ernakulam, had on October 28, 2010, acquitted the former DIG and sentenced Lakshmana to life imprisonment. The High Court and the Supreme Court upheld the CBI court’s verdict. Later, Lakshmana was released from the jail following the remission of the sentence by the State government in exercise of powers conferred under Article 161 of the Constitution of India and under the relevant provisions of the Kerala Prison Rule.

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